On arrival at Nairobi airport we are met and transferred to the hotel. Look for information from your Discovery Adventures guide (a qualified Naturalist) on the hotel bulletin board regarding our group meeting this evening. Nairobi is a vibrant and busy city with numerous attractions for those who arrive early. The National Museum, home to most of the great prehistoric finds made by the Leakey family in East Africa, from Ethiopia to the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania can be found here. It also has sections on wildlife, art, geology, local history and a snake park. West of the city, the suburb of Karen is named after Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa. Her house here is now the Karen Blixen Museum, complete with a garden and tea house. Also in Karen is the African Butterfly Research Institute, showcasing native butterflies. South of Nairobi, in Langata, are a number of the city's most famed attractions such as; The Giraffe Center, where we have the option of hand-feeding the rare Rothschild giraffes, The Sheldrick Trust Animal Orphanage which cares for young elephants and the Bomas of Kenya, a living open-air museum of the tribes of Kenya. The name Nairobi is derived from the Masai word for cool waters, which the Masai people gave to a water hole known as Ewaso Nyirobi. In modern times, the sprawling, cosmopolitan city of Nairobi combines first-world glass skyscraper buildings with developing-world poverty. Originating in 1899 from a handful of shacks that marked the end of the railhead during the building of the Uganda railway the city expanded dramatically in the early 1900’s, due to big game hunting mostly from Britain. A large number of British nationals settled in the area, prompting more growth and this angered both the Masai and Kikuyu people, as they were losing hunting ground due to the expansion of the city limits. The friction increased and, eventually led to the Mau Mau uprising, which saw Jomo Kenyatta, the future president jailed. Kenya was finally granted independence from Britain in 1963, with Nairobi as the capital. Apart from being Kenya’s capital and the main center of government and commerce, Nairobi is the most significant city in East Africa and an important player on the pan-African stage. It is the diplomatic base for many counties in Africa, with its broad spectrum of international embassies and headquarters for the United Nations, multi-national companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and press correspondents.
This morning, we depart from Nairobi to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, an important not-for-profit wildlife conservancy in the Laikipia District of Kenya near Mt. Kenya. After checking into our luxury tented camp inside the park, we embark on an afternoon safari game drive, in search of; black rhinos, impala, lions and the elusive leopard. In the evening we visit the famous Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Sanctuary. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a 90,000 acre private wildlife conservancy, is situated on the equator, in Kenya’s Laikipia District, between the foot hills of the Aberdares and the magnificent snow-capped Mount Kenya. The Conservancy boasts an astounding variety of animals, including the Big Five (the endangered black and white rhino, leopard, elephant, buffalo and lion), Grevy’s zebra, Jackson’s hartebeest, cheetah and chimpanzee. The combination of amazing wildlife and stunning views across the open plains guarantees an unforgettable safari experience. Baraka, a black rhino, has been transferred to the Morani complex. Baraka was the first rhino to be born in the wild on Ol Pejeta, and his name means blessings in Swahili. He is now completely blind due to a fight with another rhino which lost him an eye and then sadly he developed a crystallized cataract in the other which is beyond repair. His disability has meant that he could not be returned to the wild. Baraka is an Ambassador for his species, and his good nature allows visitors a hands-on experience to interact with him from a feeding platform. Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary is incorporated within the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and is the only place in Kenya where this highly endangered and remarkably intelligent species can be seen. The Sanctuary opened in 1993 in an agreement between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Jane Goodall Institute. The facility was initially established to receive and provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) from West and Central Africa. An initial group of three chimpanzee orphans were brought to the sanctuary from a facility in Bujumbura, Burundi in 1993. Over the last decade Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary has been compelled to keep accepting chimpanzees rescued from traumatic situations bringing the total number of chimpanzees in the sanctuary to 42. The chimpanzees are being carefully nursed back to health so they can enjoy the rest of their days in the safety of a vast natural enclosure. The chimpanzees live in two large groups separated by the Ewaso Nyiro River. Approximate Distance: 100 miles (160 km) Estimated Travel Time: 3 hrs
After our morning game drive and visit to the Morani rhino sanctuary, we descend into the Great Rift Valley enjoying stunning views of the escarpment on the way to Soysambu Conservancy. We finish the day with a unique night game drive in the Conservancy. A part of the extensive lands, first owned by one of Kenya’s best-known pioneers, Lord Delamere, the non-profit Soysambu Conservancy is dedicated towards preserving this previously private and still pristine wilderness - for the benefit of its unique wildlife, and for the generations of tomorrow. Long protected from the impact of mass-tourism, the Conservancy provides sanctuary for a wide range of unique wildlife, including the shy and secretive leopard. Lakes Nakuru, Bogoria and Elementaita has recently been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site is of great ecological significance as part of the Great Rift Valley Lakes system and according to UNESCO “is home to 13 globally threatened bird species and some of the highest bird diversities in the world”. Approximate Distance: 110 miles (180 km) Estimated Travel Time: 5-6 hrs
After an early breakfast, we depart for a morning game drive in Lake Nakuru National Park before continuing on to the world famous Masai Mara Game Reserve. Lake Nakuru National Park began in 1961 as a small protected territory, only encompassing the famous lake of the same name, and the surrounding mountains. Now it has been extended to include a large part of the area’s grassland savannahs and woodland slopes, and covers an area of roughly 73 square miles (188 km sq). Lake Nakuru itself is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes. The alkaline lake's abundance of algae attracts the flamingos, estimated in the millions, that famously line the shore. The surface of the shallow lake is often unrecognizable due to the continually shifting mass of pink. There are two types of flamingo species: the Lesser flamingo can be distinguished by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage unlike the greater flamingo, which has a bill with a black tip. Also present are two large fish-eating birds, pelicans and cormorants and other birdlife, including; grebes, white winged black, stilts, avocets, ducks, and the migrant waders. The park has recently been enlarged partly to provide sanctuary for the black rhino. This undertaking has necessitated a fence - to keep out poachers rather than to restrict the movement of wildlife. The park now has more than 25 rhinos, one of the largest concentrations in the country, so the chances of spotting these survivors are better than in other parks. There are also a number of Rothschild's giraffe, again re-located for safety from western Kenya beginning in 1977. Numerous other mammals can be seen, including zebra, impala, gazelle, waterbuck, lion, warthog, bushbuck, and buffalo. Approximate Distance: 230 miles (368 km) Estimated Travel Time: 6 hrs
Days 5 and 6 both begin with early morning game drives, since the best time to spot wildlife is in the early hours. The days continue with more game viewing as we criss-cross the rolling hills of the African savannah. With this amount of time in the reserve, we have a chance to venture further than most safari groups, into the western part of the reserve, considered to be the best areas for wildlife viewing. There is also plenty of free time for an optional balloon safari, and a stop at a Masai village to learn about, and interact with, the local people. The Masai Mara (also spelled Maasai Mara) is a game reserve in south-western Kenya, and is the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Named for the Masai tribes people, who are the traditional inhabitants of the area, and the Mara River, which divides it, the reserve is famous for its exceptional population of game and the annual migration of the wildebeest every September and October. The migration is so immense it is known as the Great Migration and is considered one of the most impressive natural events in the world. This migration of herbivores include an estimated 1,300,000 million wildebeest, 360,000 thousand Thomson's gazelle, and 191,000 thousand zebra. These numerous migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by a block of hungry predators, most notably lions and hyena. With an area of 585 square miles (1510 km sq.), the Masai Mara is not the largest game park or reserve in Kenya, but it is the most famous. The entire area of the park is nestled within the enormous Great Rift Valley that extends from the Mediterranean Sea to Mozambique. The terrain of the reserve is primarily open grassland, with clusters of the distinctive acacia tree in the south-east region. The western border is the Esoit Oloololo Escarpment of the Rift Valley, and wildlife tends to be most concentrated here, as the swampy ground means that access to water is always good. The Masai Mara is perhaps most famous for its lions, though the other members of the Big Five are usually spotted. This said, the population of black rhinoceros is severely threatened, with a population of only 37 recorded in 2000. Hippopotami are found in large groups in the Mara and Talek Rivers, and many cheetah, zebra, impala, gazelles, hartebeest, warthog, topi, and Masai giraffe, all consider the “Mara” their home territory. As well, the large Roan antelope and the nocturnal bat-eared fox, rarely present elsewhere in Kenya, can be seen within the reserve borders. The Masai Mara is a also major research center for the spotted hyena. Additionally, over 450 species of bird have been identified in the park, including vulture, marabou, secretary bird, hornbill, crowned crane, ostrich, long-crested eagle, and pygmy falcon.
This morning we take our last game drive in the Masai Mara before heading back to Nairobi. Approximate Distance: 180 miles (285 km) Estimated Travel Time: 7-8hrs
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